We had our first hint of it over the Easter weekend: a few days of glorious sunshine, a reminder that summer is on its way. If you're already dreaming of hazy weekend afternoons reading in the garden and long evening drinks, now's a great time to spruce up your outdoor arrangements – no one wants to make a frantic trip to buy patio chairs on a sunny day once you realise there's nowhere for your friends to sit. Here are a few ideas to get you started, from loungers to lights.
One of our favourite things about visiting Mediterranean countries is the ubiquitous al fresco dining. Whether it's a morning coffee, a salad at lunch or a relaxed dinner, everything seems to taste better outside. You're also way less likely to be scrolling through your phone, and more likely to simply savour the moment.
We may not always get the weather for it, but you can take every chance that we do to dine outside with a simple table and chair set. This design from Habitat comes in this summery pink shade, and can also be folded away during the colder months. Parc 2 Seat Pink Metal Folding Bistro Set, around €105, Habitat.
Take a seat
The view from your patio might not be quite as spectacular as the one above, but it's still lovely to have a place to stop and just sit for a while. Read a book, listen to a podcast, or just simply watch the bees flit from flower to flower.
This bench from Skagerak is made from organic teak, and the top of the backrest is wide enough to act as a small shelf for pots. Skagerak Plank bench, €1,269 and bench cushion, €210, Finnish Design Shop.
Speaking of bees, to make sure your garden has plenty of them buzzing about, consider giving them a place to rest and shelter with a bee block. This one, made from charcoal cast concrete, won't rot in the rain like wooden designs, and can either be built into a wall or left freestanding.
Combine it with some bee-friendly plants such as lavender, honeysuckle and buddleia to make your garden a bee-friendly space. Charcoal bee block, €21, Designist.
Keep it light
Even with our exceptionally long summer evenings, the sun does eventually disappear. The fun doesn't have to though, or even move inside with some simple lighting.
This solar-powered LED design from Ikea not only doesn't need any wires or cables, allowing you to move it around easily, but it recharges itself during the day through a solar panel. Solvinden outdoor light, €8, Ikea.
If you're serious about summer entertaining, this outdoor drinks trolley will up your hostess game to the next level. Keep your guests' drinks topped up without running inside constantly, or even better, let them help themselves so you can properly relax.
This sturdy design could also double as a shelf for potted plants when you don't have guests over. Tice Garden Drinks Trolley, around €115, Made.com.
We've all done it: grabbed some of our indoor cushions to lie on the grass with on a sunny day, and just hope they don't pick up any grass stains or dirt. These ones however, are specifically designed to withstand much more.
Made from acrylic fabric, they are anti-stain, water-repellent, UV resistant and anti-mildew. Plus, they'll add a cheerful pop of colour to your outdoor area. Lorette Outdoor cushion 44 x 44cm, €56, Made In Design.
If seriously good weather hits, there's nothing more we want to do than simply soak up the sun (with appropriate UV protection, of course.) A comfortable chair is a must, and these ones from JYSK are also made from bamboo, a very sustainable material that is also lightweight, making them easy to take in and out. Bamle beach chair, €40, JYSK.
Featured image: Ottowa Rattan sofa, around €1,310, Habitat.
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